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View Diary: This response ends the debate on gay Scouts. (176 comments)

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  •  Aren't atheists allowed? (21+ / 0-)

    I'm sorry.  I am repulsed by the continued discrimination against the LGBT community.  But I am not willing to give the Boy Scouts a pass for their insistence that all scouts AND their parents believe in some manifestation of a god.


    Your mother of a good soldier, though honorable and forthright, does not explain this discrepancy.

    The business of Nations is never morality. Moral stories live only through people.

    by tecampbell on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 10:33:24 PM PST

    •  Heck, how about girls? (14+ / 0-)

      In many other countries, it's just "Scouts," not Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 10:47:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I've always seen them as a religious organization (14+ / 0-)

      I'm atheist now but I was a scout back in the day. Lots of god references. That's why I don't put my kids through it now. Plus the homophobe stuff. My kids wouldn't like it. If they want to try religion, they can try it when they are old enough to make up their own minds.

      i just baptized andrew breitbart into the church of islam, planned parenthood, the girl scouts and three teachers unions. - @blainecapatch

      by bobinson on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 12:09:15 AM PST

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      •  Since religion is not their primary focus (6+ / 0-)

        Pointing out they constantly indoctrinate will get no traction. School assemblies get filled with christian theology thanks to the scouts.

        "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

        by Horace Boothroyd III on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 04:30:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The point is... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tennessee Dave, maf1029

          ...that this change of heart when it comes to gay people brings them no closer to any sort of government endorsement or support, because they still impermissibly discriminate (for government support purposes... any private organization is of course free to discriminate for any reason they choose).

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 09:26:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Where do you guys live? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          We don't have school assemblies with Scouts in Public Schools.

          Our cubs do service projects at their grade school, but that's outside of school time.  Our scouts all go to different schools and my son's middle school has scouts that go to several different troops.  It would be hard to get them together for some sort of assembly.

          And other than our sponsoring organization, which is a United Methodist Church, allowing us to use their facilities, religion is never a focus for our troop.

          Other sponsoring organizations may differ, of course.  LDS and Catholics, for example, make religion more of a part of the scouting experience.

      •  my experience was that it varied widely by troop (0+ / 0-)

        the church-based troops were pretty aggressively religious (and beyond that, aggressively sectarian), those of us who weren't linked with a church didn't really have anything to do with religion save for a mumbled reference to being reverent in the oath.

      •  I wasn't following any religion then (0+ / 0-)

        but I had a catholic mother, so I could claim Catholicism, and skip all the religious servers by them Protestants...
        except twice for those large multi troop gatherings that occasionally had a catholic service.

    •  Meh (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BachFan, howie14, ivorybill, rsmpdx, The Marti, suzq

      I'm an agnostic, but when I was a teenager I considered myself an atheist.  I took it for granted that I was not a part of the religious mainstream, it was easy for me to dismiss the ceremonial niceties in a variety of venues without making a scene.

      There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

      by slothlax on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 12:31:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This was founded as a part of the "muscular (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ivorybill, sfbob, The Marti, citylights

      Christianity" movement of the Victorian era.

      Which was evangelical, though perhaps not as hysterical as modern eeeeee-vangelicals.

      That's why it's centered on Protestantism.

      Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

      by dadadata on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 04:02:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Baden Powell wrote the Outlanders Promise (20+ / 0-)
      On my honor I promise to do my best:
      To render service to my country;
      To help other people at all times;
      To obey the Scout Law.
      It was intended for Scouts who held beliefs not in accord with the concept of personified divinity (Taoists, Buddhists, ect.) or whose religion forbade publicly mentioning God's name (obviously some Jews).

      Doesn't seem like religion was a deal breaker for him.

      "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

      by JesseCW on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 04:40:14 AM PST

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    •  My mom was not religious (5+ / 0-)

      and she didn't want us to have anything to do with the boy scouts.  I think in retrospect that was a good thing.  Their idea of camping was this weird cult-like activity involving uniforms and pledges and structured activities and efforts to make you conform.

      For me, wilderness and the outdoors was the opposite of all that. Wilderness was exploring - often solitary - and learning.  The boy scouts were never going to teach you about insects, or geology, or knowing when and where certain animals might be found, or even just a little about bird migration.  They weren't going to whisper to you that you are alive on a miraculous planet.  Wilderness does that; boy scouts are neutral or a hindrance.

      “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

      by ivorybill on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 06:32:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, it's the military thing, again (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ivorybill, artmartin, The Marti

        The scouts like to pretend that they are a military encampment. That's the point of the regimentation and uniforms.

        On the other hand, scouts will teach kids about insects and animals, bird migration, geology, animal habits, and other outdoorsy, sciency stuff. There are merit badges in many sciences.

        They have moral blinders and a 1950's view of the world, but they do teach useful stuff and encourage learning.

        •  You're right of course (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          But wilderness has always = freedom in some sense, and the whole regimentation and uniform business seems its complete opposite.

          “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

          by ivorybill on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 07:30:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  As a young mixed-race kid whose mom (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fumie, koseighty, citylights

          wanted him to be a boy scout for a long time, they didn't teach me much about science, but they did teach me a lot about racism, bigotry, redneckism, violence, how to shoot all manner of things (arrows, handguns, rifles, and cannons) and how to get beat up by boy and man alike.

          When she finally admitted to herself that I was right in saying that this is what I was learning there, she let me off the hook and let go of the "boy who's an Eagle Scout" dream.

          All I wanted to do was get away from those scary, hypermasculinized, borderline white-supremacist folks that seemed to exist to go out every weekend and kill something while reciting one pledge or another, often in hokey and embarrassing "native-american-caricature" language.

          But I suppose "scouting" is different in Utah from, say, the northeast (do people even do it there?! I never saw it when I was living in that area).

          -9.63, 0.00
          "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

          by nobody at all on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 09:42:58 AM PST

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          •  in CT... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            We lived in CT from '87 to '95. DS was born in '88 and in the cub scouts for a year. Since DH didn't want anything to do with the meetings, events or activities, everything fell to me. The only activity DH went on was a group hike. Anyway, after the derby event [in which DS's car took 2nd place :)] we dropped out. It was getting too hard for me to manage by myself while handling an infant.

            Two of my bros went from cub scouts to boy scouts. The troop met at a Japanese-Language school in Honolulu. I used to hang around the meetings, don't remember much going around religion.

            Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything. —molly ivins

            by fumie on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 10:04:14 AM PST

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          •  I live in NY and two friends (0+ / 0-)

            who have boys do the scouting thing. They are far from rednecks or racists.

            I suspect scouting reflects local values since it's mostly and local-run thing. In blue states, the scouts are bluer, in red states, redder.

      •  Good point. Maybe that's why I (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        was such a lousy scout.

        "Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God"-Thomas Jefferson.

        by philipogog on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 09:07:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Huh. Not so in my case. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ivorybill, Mark Noel

        My scoutmaster was an amazing man.  He was an artist by profession, and taught as much geology and botany and astronomy and just ... recognition of the amazing thing that is life as anything else.

        I have some very strong memories of sitting on a ridge with him and a few of the others at sunrise, overlooking the Mojave or Palomar Mountain or other places, just appreciating the beauty of it, and then being shown how to spot the various flora and fauna doing their thing without disturbing any of it.

        And as a survivor of the Bataan Death March, he also had oodles of very good and cogent advice on camping, hiking, survival, diplomacy, etc.

        Alas, not all scoutmasters were that good, and fewer are now.

        I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

        by trumpeter on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 09:36:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Um, that you were not a scout means that you (0+ / 0-)

        should perhaps do a little research before you comment about scouting.

        All scouts are required to know about local flora, fauna, and terrain as they advance through each rank.  There are badges for insects, geology, animal name it, there's a badge that you can earn.   At the scout level, those badges require study and consultation with an expert-- you have to be expert on a subject to be a badge counselor.  

        Furthermore, scouting abides by a "leave no trace" policy, which enforces the utmost respect for the earth.

        But scouting is way more than the outdoors.  It is also about learning how your government works, how your community is organized, how to be prepared in an emergency, how to do basic first aid, how to cook and provision, and how to stay physically fit.

        It's ok for you to have opinions about scouts, but please don't present them as facts.

        •  I do have nephews (0+ / 0-)

          who were in the boy scouts.  One ended up studying biology, but he got none of that from the BSA.  They do not recall it in a positive light at all.  Perhaps some scout groups are better than others.

          “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

          by ivorybill on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 09:52:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, some (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            patrols, packs, and troops are better than others.  Way better.

            I pulled my kids (and that meant the kids the local troop assigned to my patrol) out of Boy Scouts and into Camp Fire because the local troop was very unsupportive and the parents were the ones who mostly "earned" the badges while their sons watched.  The Cub Scout Pinewood Derby was a travesty of dad-made cars, with my patrol being the only one where the boys made their own. Even though one of my boys got 2nd place, they all felt bad because their cars weren't as pretty or as fancy as the others. And it just went downhill from there.

            In Camp Fire, the boys (and their sisters) had the support and frequent ready access to the camp grounds at any time for day trips and with very little paperwork for weekend campouts.

            They got so much more out of Camp Fire than they ever would have gotten from the local Scouts that I have no regrets talking their parents into letting them switch - and neither do they.

            All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

            by Noddy on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 11:31:10 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  That "weirdness" wasn't universal. My camping (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wu ming, ivorybill

        experiences as a scout were about as regimented as a pick-up basketball game with an adult doing some coaching from the sideline.  Aside from summer camp run by the Scout district,  we never wore uniforms.  Even though we lived in the suburbs, we were near very large wooded "reservations" and farmland, so the kids often went on long hikes with no adult supervision.  

        My guess is that the degree of weird regimentation with any specific troop is proportional to the degree of delusions of military grandeur held by the adult leaders.  Our leaders were very young guys who years later came out as gay -- not that that shocked anybody who had been in our troop or that it made any obvious difference to our experience in scouting, except probably to improve it.  

    •  I don't think Atheist are allowed. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      On my honor, I will do my best
      To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
      To help other people at all times;
      To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight. "

      Notice that God comes before country.

      And while it says you must do your best to be morally straight, that has not been my experience with many Scoutmasters.

    •  No atheists or agnostics allowed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tecampbell, lotlizard

      per their religious doctrine (all emphasis is mine):

      The Boy Scouts of America's official position is that atheists and agnostics cannot participate as Scouts or adult Scout Leaders in its traditional Scouting programs.

      "The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, ‘On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.’ The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members."

      The BSA believes that atheists and agnostics are not appropriate role models of the Scout Oath and Law for boys, and thus will not accept such persons as members or adult leaders. The Bylaws of the BSA contain a non-sectarian Declaration of Religious Principle which all Scouts are required to subscribe to as part of the membership application process.

      Basically, godless heathens are, by their definition, immoral. Personally, I think this stance makes them immoral.

      This version of the oath represents the stance adopted by the BSA; the oath taken in some other countries is less strident about "god."

      The recent review of the policy regarding gays hasn't changed their bigoted stance against atheists - yet:

      The potential policy shift raises a question about another group shut out of Scouting: atheists, who decline to say the Boy Scout Oath because it begins: "On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law."

      David Silverman, president of American Atheists, said Monday, "If they are considering lifting the ban on gays, that's a good thing, that's progress. If they lift that bigotry from their requirements, I would hope they remove the rest of the bigotry and admit atheists as well."

      Refusing to admit atheists who decline the oath, Silverman said, "tells boys that atheists are immoral. If local groups want to behave in an ethical way, I'm confident they will make Boy Scouts about Scouting, not about bigotry."

      I'm a Democrat - I believe that government has a positive role to play in the lives of ordinary people.

      by 1BQ on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 12:47:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  that's the impression I had (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Yeah, there's been nothing in the current discussion about the ban on atheists.  (The two bans got linked a lot because of some high-profile arguments between the BSA and other groups.)  

        The change in the Girl Scout oath to allow substitutions came in 1992 -- I was 12 and active in scouting at the time, and was told to keep my mouth shut about being an atheist, but if I wanted to substitute something vague (like "Goodness" or "Love") I could.  I would bet my local council is still about that atheist-friendly, given where I grew up, but they're not nearly as hostile about it as the Boy Scouts.

      •  My older son was in cub scouts for 2-3 years... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but I'm an agnostic and felt dishonest agreeing to their BS.  I was happy when he decided not to continue and when my second son was old enough, we never brought it up.  

        I was a cub scout myself back in the '60s and we met at an Episcopal church, but I don't recall any religious indoctrination, other than the oath.  My guess is that most members of our pack had a Protestant or Catholic background, though our community also was significantly Jewish as well.

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